Monthly Archives: June 2017

Vietnam

These are some photographs Number One Son took on his recent trip to Vietnam. It’s a relief to Julia that he’s back safely because some of the airlines he flew with are more notable for cheapness than safety.

I’m not sure what they are of, but they look quite good, particularly as they are taken with a phone. I took some photographs on my phone today.  They weren’t as good as these, but wet ducks in Lincolnshire drizzle were never going to compete with the spleandour of the orient.

Looks like time for me to move over and make room for the next generation.

Who is the Best Bear?

I’ve been struggling today – having written over a thousand words and deleted most of them. The remaining fragment is saved as a draft and may never be published, which is ironic when you consider the subject is publication.

The trouble is that I kept getting bogged down with the misery of a serious intro.

So I’m now just going to get straight to the point.

The subject is bears, specifically which is the best bear, with a digression into bears that might have been,

Our bear, as seen in the picture, is Farmer Ted. He’s a bear known to only a few, though he is an excellent fellow and sound on rural matters.

His main competition comes from Rupert, Winnie the Pooh, Paddington and Yogi. I’m also fond of the Bulgy Bears, though they aren’t as well known as the rest. Number Two son has just nominated the three bears of Goldilocks fame, Kung Fu Panda and Bear in the Big Blue House. I’ve also just thought of Aloysius from Brideshead. Even better, I actually remembered how to spell it.

So, first question, who is your favourite bear?

My second question is – who else do you think wasted their talents instead of writing about bears?

If T S  Eliot had concentrated on his lighter side and produced a bear book instead of messing about with the Four Quartets he could have been onto something. He did alright with cats so I don’t see why not.

There’s also Barrie, Grahame, Sassoon, Gavin Maxwell…

Memoirs of a Bear Hunting Man would have been a much fairer contest and Ring of Bright Water would not have ended well for the man with the shovel.

Bear of the Baskervilles anyone?

 

Robin Hood’s Bay

Yes, it’s more photos from the trip to the seaside. Robin Hood’s Bay is nowhere near Sherwood Forest – it’s between Whitby and Scarborough. It has a very interesting history, but to be honest, we tend to park in the viewpoint at the top of the hill.

It was a bit hazy on the day, so I used the “pop-art” setting on the camera to brighten things up. It isn’t very realistic, but it’s cheerful. It’s also as realistic as most of the 60’s postcards I remember from childhood.

There was a good variety of plant life in the grass around the parking area, and it was very easy to access as you had tarmac to walk on.

I’m not sure about the species of  the spider in the featured image, but the beetle is a soldier beetle, bit I won’t push my luck by being more precise as there are 530 European species and many of them look alike.

This, by the way, is my 800th post. I think I must be getting a little blasé about blogging because it’s not as exciting as it used to be when you hit a big round number.  However, I just prodded the dashboard at the top of the screen and found that I can put an accent on the final e of blasé. It’s only taken me 800 posts to find that out, but then I didn’t need it in the first 799. (It’s the Ω sign).

I’m going to write a post about Schrödinger now I can spell his name properly.

 

Bridges, Locks and Hearts

As I recall, we were at Wilford Suspension Bridge when we left the Embankment. It is not to be confused with Wilford Toll Bridge. I’ll  cover the Toll Bridge later.

The suspension bridge was built by the Nottingham Corporation Water Department in 1906 to carry a pipeline that delivered water to Wilford Hill Resevoir. It also carries two gas mains across the river.

The most interesting feature these days are the padlocks. They have become popular over the last few years and are used to represent undying love. They are more likely to appear in romantic locations such as Paris, Venice and Cologne. I didn’t know Cologne was a romantic destination, but it days so in the Nottingham Post so it must be true.

The Pont des Arts in Paris lost several metres of parapet in 2014, ripped of by the weight of locks. They are trying to discourage the practice but by the end of 2015 there were an estimated million locks on the bridge – thought to weight 45 tonnes. With scrap brass at just over £2,000 a tonne, and allowing for 50% of the weight being steel that’s £45,000. That sound you hear is me thinking…

 

They used to have locks on the bridge at Bakewell too, but they were going to remove some. I’ll have to pop up and see if there are any left.

Love locks, despite seeming quite recent to us, actually date back to the Great War in Serbia. They are generally seen as messy and dangerous by all but the people placing them. As the current divorce rate in the UK is 47% local authorities are probably safe asuming most of the couples aren’t still on speaking terms.

I won’t carry on in this cynical vein, though it is tempting to compare the locks, the price of weddings and public displays of emotion with the divorce rate.

When I just asked Julia what she thought was the secret of a lasting marriage. She replied: “I must have been very bad in a previous life.”

That wasn’t really the answer I’d been hoping for.

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Book Review: History Without the Boring Bits

History Without the Boring Bits

by Ian Crofton

Quercus (2007) This edition 2015

Paperback 362 pp  £9.99

ISBN-10: 1847240860

ISBN-13: 978-1847240866

Not so much a title as a challenge. I’m not sure I can resist it. Having read a previous book of Crofton’s on food, I wasn’t expecting too much but it was reduced to £2.99 so there wasn’t much to risk.

The food book was very basic, and a few hours on the internet would have given you most, if not all the information. This one is a step up from that, seeming to cram a lot more in. Unfortunately a succession of interesting snippets doesn’t make for an interesting book. I’d like to see fewer entries, with a bit more information about each one. Apart from the bits I already know, there are many entries that aren’t particularly interesting, and some that are just unpleasant. (To my mind he seems overly fond of mutilation.)

So, referring back to the challenge contained in the title, no it hasn’t missed all the boring bits out. It’s a good book to dip into, but sometimes you may have to skim before finding a gem.  I was pleased with it after my earlier experience with the food book, though still a little ambivalent, and have just ordered another of his books from Amazon. It cost me £2.81 including postage and packing so even if it’s rubbish it’s not a great loss.

I’ll let you know what happens.

On the Embankment

I had a walk on the Embankment after dropping Julia off at work.

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The Embankment, Nottingham, looking towards Trent Bridge

I’m not sure if all the detail will show up in the photo, but starting from the right – those spindly circular lights are the lights of Trent Bridge cricket ground. The floodlights just showing behind the trees on the right bank of the river are from the City Ground, home of Nottingham Forest. Just behind that is the Lady Bay, base of Nottingham Rugby and across the river is Meadow Lane, the ground of Notts County. I couldn’t get a viewpoint that showed them. The two football grounds are the closest in England, about 300 yards according to Wiki. I think it’s fair to say that this is the sporting centre of Nottingham.

Fishing has always been popular along the Trent, as you can see. The blue bridge is the actual Trent Bridge and the one behind is Lady Bay Bridge, an ex-railway bridge converted to take vehicles.

The river has also been used for recreational rowing for many years. Nottingham Rowing Club was founded in 1862, becoming the Nottingham and Union Rowing Club after the war when the two clubs merged. The Union Club had been bombed out during the Nottingham Blitz in 1941. The current Nottingham Rowing Club was formed in 2006 when the  Nottingham Boat Club (founded 1894) and the Nottingham Britannia Rowing Club (founded 1869) merged. The NBC boathouse was the victim of a Suffragette arson attack in 1913. Members attended the next Suffragette meeting where they “subjected them to embarassment and indignities”.

The political graffiti “artists” have been out. I assume this was a disgruntled “Remain” voter.

Nottingham’s War Memorial, though undoubtedly grand, is rather too much about Nottingham for my taste. There are 72,246 names on the Thiepval memorial to the dead of the Somme battles who have no known grave.  There are 54,395 names on the Menin Gate for the dead of the Ypres Salient who had no known grave. At that point they ran out of space and those who died after 15th August 1917 are commemorated on the Tyne Cot memorial. The New Zealand and Newfoundland governments made their own arrangements.

I know many, if not all, of the Nottingham dead will be on local memorials. In fact 55 rowers (including Albert Ball) are commemorated on Trent Bridge. (One day I must count all the memorials Albert Ball is listed on.) It just seems that without the personal link of names it lacks a dimension.

Finally, the last picture is the Wilford Suspension Bridge. Apart from being a pedestrian Bridge it carries a water main and two gas pipes. It also makes a convenient place to stop.

 

Almost According to Plan…

Well, it rolled out almost as I expected.

I loaded the pictures, I had lunch and I read a couple of chapters of the book  I’m currently reading. That wasn’t actually in the plan but I like to keep the momentum going.

Things ground to a temporary halt. Just as I entered the surgery some ferrety type slipped round me to beat me to the desk. I hate it when people do that. If they get there first, that’s life, but why treat it as a race? Naturally he had a complicated matter to sort out. I dropped a few hints, like leaning on a convenient pillar and whimpering.

I was just on the point of suggesting (a) he accepted the “wrong” drugs on his prescription and (b) he took them all in one lot when the receptionist called for help.

Shopping was easy enough. The kids like breaded chicken and it’s cheap. Add salad and baked potatoes and it’s easy, cheap and mostly healthy.

Then it was time to get home for Pointless.

You may have noticed a few omissions, but I forgot the ice cream (and the brown sauce) and decided it was too hot for duck ponds.

I see I got my sons mixed up. It was Number Two son I coerced into doing the washing up and Number One who was coming to visit. He made his own way from the station, which was a bonus. We had tea, they mumbled, I dozed off.

It’s comforting to know that in an ever-changing world that some things remain the same.

Nature note: Julia was walking along the embankment in the afternoon on her way between the garden and the office, when she saw a Cormorant catch an eel. It was quite a big eel, and kept thrashing about until it wrapped round the bird’s neck. This is understandable, as things were clearly going to end badly for the eel if it couldn’t escape.

After a certain amount of thrashing about and diving, the bird won. I’m not sure what the diving was meant to accomplish, the eel clearly wasn’t going to be inconvenienced by it. Eels like water.

When I asked if she’d managed to get any photos on her phone…

…well I’d have been too interested watching too.

Tomorrow I will tell you, with photographs, what Number One son brought back fron Vietnam.